Handguns > Semi-Auto

Ruger SR1911

The Ruger SR1911 delivers accuracy and reliability from a classic platform made with modern methods and materials with an attractive price.

7/20/2011

As we celebrate the 100th birthday of the M1911 pistol, it’s understandable that we might pause to reflect on the history of what I consider to be the finest fighting pistol ever invented. John M. Browning designed the big semi-automatic for our military, and it was the U.S. military-issue handgun through quite a few decades and several wars. Since its debut, the M1911 has also become a top choice for American peace officers and armed citizens. I’ve been shooting it for 50 years and have carried one nearly every day for the past 40 years.

Back in my early days with the big .45 auto, the guns had diminutive military sights, stiff triggers and feed ramps shaped to take only military hardball ammunition. A competent pistolsmith was needed to correct all of those issues, but doing so ensured that the gun realized its full potential as a defensive tool.

My, how times have changed. We currently have so many companies, foreign and domestic, producing versions of the M1911 that it is difficult to maintain an accurate count. Fortunately, most of the guns have decent sights and acceptable triggers and will chamber today’s high-quality defensive ammunition. It is encouraging to see firearm manufacturers making an effort to build the kind of pistols that are good to go right out of the box. A prime example is the long-rumored SR1911 from Ruger, which is the first such offering from one of America’s giants in firearm manufacturing.

Whispers about a possible M1911-style handgun from Ruger have been heard for quite some time, but about a year ago, I heard the company was giving serious consideration to actually making such a gun. Then I received an invitation to attend a writer event in December 2010 at Gunsite Academy in Paulden, Ariz., to see the results of the company’s work.

It turns out Ruger had been quietly quizzing shooters on their preferences for what a “good” M1911 should and shouldn’t include. Several of Ruger’s engineers are competition shooters and have a working knowledge of the platform. Ruger also called in some experts to help with the design. Wayne Novak and Charley Pulit (president of Novak Sights and a great pistolsmith in his own right) spent a good deal of time with Ruger engineers to design a pistol that had all of the features a great M1911 should have and none of the frills that are found on some of today’s pistols. Ruger’s studied approach produced an extremely useful M1911 pistol at a very reasonable price.

The Ruger SR1911 is a Government Model-size pistol in .45 ACP with a 5-inch barrel. Manufactured entirely of stainless steel—with no plastic parts—it weighs in at 2 pounds, 7 ounces. The slide and barrel are machined from bar stock, while the frame is a stainless-steel casting. The pistol is manufactured and assembled at Ruger’s plant in Prescott, Ariz.

The company has owned a separate casting company for decades and, among other products, has been casting M1911 frames for several other manufacturers. It has incorporated what it has learned about M1911 frames, and casting in general, into the new pistol.

Only the mainspring housing and magazine-release button are checkered. The trigger, which has a serrated face, is skeletonized and features an adjustable over-travel stop. The grip safety is a beavertail design with what has come to be called a “speed bump” at the bottom for more positive activation. The thumb safety, also serrated, is a trim, unobtrusive combat type that gives good purchase to the shooting thumb but is not so large as to get in the way. The hammer is a skeletonized, elongated rowel type.

Two features of the Ruger frame are of particular interest. The plunger tube, which serves the slide lock and thumb safety, is cast integrally with the pistol’s frame. On many other M1911 pistols this is a separate part that is staked on and can work loose. The second feature is a magazine release button that is slightly taller than standard, facilitating tactical and speed reloads.

The machined bar stock slide of the SR1911 continues the utilitarian approach that Ruger has used in designing the pistol. It is devoid of forward cocking serrations, a feature that I view as unnecessary. It has the traditional internal extractor and is topped off with a set of black Lo-Mount Novak fixed sights, which are some of the best to be found on today’s defensive handguns. The sights, front and rear, are set in standard Colt-specification dovetails. The SR1911 also comes standard with a titanium firing pin and lacks the accursed firing pin block found on some contemporary M1911s.

As to that last point, there has been confusion in the past that has resulted in some referring to certain M1911s as “Series 80” and others as “Series 70,” depending upon whether or not they had a firing pin block of the type employed on M1911 pistols manufactured by Colt. There were other differences between those series, so it would be far better to just say that the Ruger SR1911 does not have a firing pin block safety and let it go at that. The original idea of such a safety, by the way, was to keep the pistol from discharging if it was dropped directly on the muzzle. Today, a titanium firing pin with an adequately strong spring and adherence to basic handgun safety rules serves the same purpose and is a far better way to avoid that rare occurrence.

Overall, the basic fit and finish of the Ruger SR1911 are well-executed. The slide and frame have been properly mated to reduce friction and aid smooth functioning, and the all-stainless gun has a pleasing matte finish with no sharp edges.

Many of the SR1911’s important features are not readily visible, however. For instance, the extractor claw has been properly shaped to ensure reliable extraction of the spent cartridges. The barrel locking lugs have been snugly mated to the corresponding slots in the slide to allow the stainless barrel to lock up reliably and tightly. The same goes for the barrel bushing, which received the proper attention required for a precise fit with the barrel and slide, yet does not require a wrench for removal. Due attention to such tolerances is what separates good M1911 pistols from all the rest.

Participants at the Ruger SR1911’s rollout at Gunsite shot a number of the facility’s class drills, and there were few malfunctions with the pre-production pistols used there. Most of those were the result of the guns needing to be broken-in and properly lubricated. Those early guns had black rubber stocks, but the production test gun that I recently wrung out had a beautiful set of checkered wood stocks with the Ruger medallion in both panels. The upgraded stocks are an aesthetic change but a smart one, nonetheless.

One of my favorite Gunsite drills is called “The Duck of Death.” Two shooters stand side-by-side, 10 to 12 yards away from two steel silhouettes. At the command to fire, each draws to shoot his steel target before his neighbor connects. It sounds simple but really puts pressure on the shooters and, as you can imagine, increases stress levels considerably with each match. Drawing from my old Milt Sparks Yaqui Slide holster, I found that the SR1911 came to hand quickly and the Novak sights were quick and easy to pick up—proving an edge over opponents whose guns lack comparable features. The clean-breaking triggers on the guns, with pull weights between 4 pounds and 4 pounds, 8 ounces, were an aid to the surprise break and a quick hit.

I gathered five different brands of .45 ACP ammunition and headed to the range to test the Ruger for accuracy at 25 yards, firing five-shot groups using a sand bag rest. In addition to accuracy, I also checked for any malfunctions and for the gun’s ability to smoothly feed an assortment of bullet designs.

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22 Responses to Ruger SR1911

Charles wrote:
June 22, 2013

I purchased my first 1911, the SR1911, just over a month ago for $699.99. I haven't fired a 1911 since my USMC issued Singer 1911A1 more than 33-years ago. I love this Ruger. I've put more than 400 American Eagle FMJ 230 grain rounds through it to break it in, and while it's the filthiest ammo i've ever used, i haven't had a single issue. At 7 yds, I was able to shoot out the bull of a 50- foot slow fire target with these 60 plus year old eyes. As far as I'm concerned, this is a keeper.

Michael wrote:
June 07, 2013

i just picked one a couple of days ago, by far the best hand gun i've ever owned.

Roger wrote:
March 04, 2013

Still waiting to get mine. Just brought one from gander paid full price 799 plus tax came out to 877 . Heard nothing but good things about this 1911 . Was looking for a Springfield GI every place I look out of stock . Guest I got lucky and found me a Ruger after a two year backorder . Just hope mine is as good of a firearms as the say it is

Ron Darling wrote:
October 27, 2012

Got mine last week. The first two mags I shot the casings would not fully eject. I changed ammo after the first mag , still had problems. I just kept clearing it and shooting it. After 15 shots it performed fine for the next 150. The sights seem off but that could be me shooting left. I need to use a sandbag before I starting messing with the sights.

Roy T wrote:
October 09, 2012

Now that I have one I would love to see Ruger add .38 and .22 conversion kits. Great gun by the way. Looks, shooting etc. is great.

D Weber wrote:
July 13, 2012

Just one thought. If you really hate the 3 dot sights...get yourself a black sharpie. Color in the two in back. Problem solved.

Rich Donahue wrote:
June 25, 2012

I have only seen 2 in the Killeen, TX area. Don't know who got the other one. I am very pleased with the feel and handling of the pistol. On the range I somehow managed to put 5 rounds into the center of the target with all 5 holes touching. Standing at 10 meters using Remington UMC bulk pack ammo. Find the sights to be easy to line up and use. Overall an enjoyable pistol to shoot.

Will wrote:
March 10, 2012

Just bought 1 of the 2 at Gander Mountain. Got a 5% Military discount to boot. What a great gun. Ruger says they will double production in 2012. Way to go Ruger. And watch for them at Gander Mountain !!

Lance wrote:
February 22, 2012

Its too bad that Ruger appears to be playing a low supply game to create a false sense of rarity with the SR1911. Hard to find is an understatement.

Save Yermoney wrote:
October 11, 2011

i will go ahead and say it. I TOLD YOU SO !

David Schnees wrote:
September 27, 2011

Just shot my new SR-1911 over the weekend. Love everything about it, it's my 28th 1911, and I'd say one of the best. My 17 and 13 year old boys well as my self all shot 3" groups on of first mags fired. Great gun!

Lammo wrote:
August 15, 2011

@ Stan Clark. Simple. The sights are great but the dots thereon are, in this reviewer's opinion, "useless" and "could get someone hurt". Take the dots off the rear sight and they would be near perfect, ITRHO.

Ron Cormier wrote:
August 08, 2011

Follow up to my previous post: Ruger's customer service was excellent- the problem turned out to be a bad magazine-not the pistol.. The dealer's employees at their range should have known to try a different magazine before sending it back to Ruger.I am now a happy camper.

Jethro wrote:
August 05, 2011

I'm astounded by your comments on 3-dot sights. Maybe if someone would explain them to you, they wouldn't seem so dangerous. A few years back I read an article(in another magazine) about the problem of making sure the front dot lines up in the center, and not to the left or right. The concept that 3-dot sights are dangerous is only slightly less laughable. 3-dot sights (and night sights) are invaluable, assuming correct training, and help rapidly acquire one's target and sights. I will continue to use them, and just hope I don't get hurt.

Rick Wells wrote:
July 29, 2011

Have been waiting on this. Went thru a Ruger Armorer's Class years ago and have had and have several of their products and like each and everyone of them.

JT McDuffie wrote:
July 29, 2011

Personally, I prefer 3-dot sights. Shooting fast and hard up close and personal is how its done and I don't find myself handicapped. So much of this really is personal preference. It sure does look per'ty

calapp wrote:
July 28, 2011

Need the ambi safety for me. LH. Why that same cowboy upcurved backstrap?

Bill Johnson wrote:
July 28, 2011

I would love to get my hands on one of these, I'm a big Ruger fan they make exceptional weapons.

RON CORMIER wrote:
July 26, 2011

Dissapointing!! Got my new SR1911 last Sat. after reading this review.I was expecting everything that this article promised.What a disappointment when on Monday, first time firing it it totally failed on the first shot! Slide came back and locked up tight with the spent casing hanging up on the bolt face. I had to field strip it to free it up and then upon a second firing it did the same thing again! Well, back to the dealer who is shipping it back to Ruger "for repair" Ain't that just dandy, a brand new pistol having to be "repaired" Well now we will see how their customer service is.Someone in quality control was asleep the day that gun left the factory, as the dealer found that the slide and frame had a spot where it was binding when racked and also thought that the ejector spring had insuficient tension.I guess it is best to wait awhile before buying any new model until all of the problems are resolved. Hopefully this is an isolated case and not indicative of the quality of the product.

chet george wrote:
July 24, 2011

what is the difforents between the P90-45 and this SR1911

Stan Clark wrote:
July 24, 2011

On the Ruger SR1911, the sights are called, "the best around", then "useless" and "could get someone hurt". Which is it?

Jason Pruett wrote:
July 21, 2011

Can't wait to get one through my shop over at jandjguns.com. It will be a hard one to let go, that's for sure.